The Florida Keys and Key West is a 126 mile long string of Islands connected to South Florida by the scenic Overseas Highway; a road that suspends the traveller in a place that bridges the gap between sea and sky. In the Florida Keys you are a world away from the theme parks of central Florida, in a place that envelopes you with its warmth and beauty and grants you permission to shed the worries of the real world you just left behind! The turquoise blue waters that surrounds Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key and Key West is a treasure trove both above and below.
06 Oct 21TRAINING | COMPETITION
Key Lime Academy Your Source for “Edutainment”Like the destination itself, Key Lime Academy has been designed to educate, inspire and entertain ...Read moreKey Lime Academy Your Source for “Edutainment” - News & announcementsLike the destination itself, Key Lime Academy has been designed to educate, inspire and entertain while unveiling all of what the Florida Keys has to offer. Similar to the Overseas Highway, Key Lime Academy is visually stimulating and allows navigators to travel through the modules at their own pace. Along the way, you will meet a diverse group of local personalities who will introduce themselves through a series of short videos. A few short quizzes will test your retention of Florida Keys facts, and a completion rate of 80% or greater will award you a Certificate of Completion. You may print and frame this keepsake and show your Conch Republic spirit with pride!As a graduate of Key Lime Academy, you will have access to our Suggested Itineraries; a series of vacation ideas written by locals offering insider tips on attractions, photo ops, restaurants and places worth discovering. But be careful — chances are these suggestions will inspire your own visit to the Florida Keys sometime very soon.Let’s get started!
21 Sep 21Partner News
Hidden Foodie Favorites Flavor the Florida Keys & Key WestIn the Florida Keys & Key West, fresh seafood is a must for just about ...Read moreHidden Foodie Favorites Flavor the Florida Keys & Key West - News & announcementsIn the Florida Keys & Key West, fresh seafood is a must for just about every meal and, with the abundance of fish and seafood in Keys waters, it’s no wonder the island chain’s indigenous cuisine relies on it. Keys restaurants range from gourmet hotspots to dockside seafood “shacks” and trendy food trucks where guests can choose from a wide variety of options.Many excellent restaurants along the historic Florida Keys Overseas Highway provide tasty temptations. But if diners venture into less-explored areas, the possibilities become virtually endless.Local fisherman offloading their catches, boats creaking along the dock, pelicans looking for treats, lobster traps neatly stacked and fishing nets being prepared all set the scene for a delicious meal at The Backyard Café at Key Largo Fisheries. This 50-year-old spot remains family-operated with the third generation working the business. Key Largo Fisheries was opened in 1972 and has blossomed into the full-fledged wholesale, retail and cafe emporium it is today.Fresh locally caught seafood is on the menu at this working waterfront eatery. Diners can enjoy stone crab claws (when in season of course), Florida lobster, shrimp, snapper and more. Whether it’s lightly grilled in a delicious sandwich or battered and fried on a platter, the freshness of Florida seafood comes through — and diners might even run into the fisherman who caught their meal.Continuing south to Islamorada leads visitors to another local favorite: Bad Boy Burrito. Located off the highway, it’s a worthwhile excursion for people seeking authentic Mexican food combined with fresh local seafood.Standouts include Cayo Hueso Fish Tacos, grilled local fresh fish served on handmade corn tortillas with special verde sauce and a choice of toppings, and Baja Fish Tacos, fried local fish served on flour tortillas with freshly made pico de gallo and chipotle mayonnaise. Meat lovers can sample one of Bad Boy’s signature burritos with either pork carnitas, ground Kobe beef or skirt steak complete with a choice of toppings. Patrons can pair their meal with a refreshing watermelon agua fresca or limeade.The emporium has been featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” — and as show host Guy Fieri can attest, a visit to Bad Boy is well worth it.Hidden away on the Boot Key Harbor Waterway in Marathon stands the Chiki Tiki Bar & Grille at Burdines Waterfront. Locals who frequent the restaurant just call it “Burdines” and its reasonable prices and delicious food make it a popular stop.The Chiki Tiki is up a flight of stairs, which means diners can enjoy a lovely breeze and a great view of the Florida Keys’ famous sunsets. Delectable dishes include fresh dolphin (mahi-mahi) sandwiches, certified Angus beef burgers and the signature tower of fries.And while Key lime pie can be found on almost every menu, the Chiki Tiki’s version is fried! Rolled in a tortilla and then deep fried, this unexpected take on Key lime pie keeps locals and visitors alike coming back for more.Journey further south into the Big Pine and Lower Keys region and discover an oasis tucked away just off the highway. Kiki’s Sandbar Bar & Grille is an easygoing beachfront eatery doling out pub grub and seafood favorites. Attractions include a patio, boat dock and beachside seating.A locals’ hangout and popular wedding locale, Kiki’s serves up blackened shrimp tacos, a grilled snapper filet sandwich and other down-home Keys favorites. Anglers coming in from a day of fishing can have the chef cook their catch and grab an ice-cold refreshment. Kiki’s also offers nightly live music in a relaxed, pet-friendly and laid-back atmosphere.Rounding out the list of foodie favorites is Pepe’s Café in Key West. The oldest restaurant on the island (a Cuban fisherman opened the place in 1909), Pepe’s is worth a visit for the history alone — though it’s the food that keeps people coming back again and again.The restaurant serves everything from mouthwatering classic breakfasts that include hearty omelets, pancakes and homemade granola to burgers and blackened fish sandwiches at lunch and juicy pork chops and steaks for dinner. The eatery’s motto is “a fairly good place, for quite a long while,” but that’s far too unassuming to describe a visit to Pepe’s.With a range of options for even the most discerning diner, it’s easy to see why taking the road less traveled in the Florida Keys can lead to some truly outstanding culinary experiences.Bon appétit! Or Buen provecho!
18 Feb 21Partner News
Tripadvisor Names Key West Among Top Five U.S. Destinations for 2021Tripadvisor has named Key West among the five most popular domestic destinations in its 2021 ...Read moreTripadvisor Names Key West Among Top Five U.S. Destinations for 2021 - News & announcements
Tripadvisor has named Key West among the five most popular domestic destinations in its 2021 Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best awards.Key West ranks just behind New York, New York; Maui, Hawaii; Las Vegas, Nevada; and New Orleans, Louisiana, as best destinations in the United States. It is one of three Florida cities on Tripadvisor’s roster of top 25 domestic destinations, with Orlando ranked 14th and Miami Beach at 18th.“Key West’s rebound as a popular vacation destination is a response to our wide open spaces, subtropical island breezes and abundance of water activities,” said Stacey Mitchell, director of the Florida Keys tourism council.“Visitors seeking a nature-based respite from the stressors of everyday life can find it in organically socially distant experiences in our backcountry waters, legendary sunsets and bicycling through our lazy lanes and historic neighborhoods,” Mitchell added.Describing Key West, Tripadvisor mused: “Does time ever pass in the Florida Keys? Everyone and everything in Key West seems to go at its own pace, right down to the ice melting slooooowly in your margarita glass.“Of course, it’s not all limes and leisure — Key West is known as the ‘Winter White House’ because of its appeal to visiting U.S. presidents, and the island has been home to literary greats like Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams,” Tripadvisor stated. “The diving here is phenomenal, as is the kid-friendly Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center.”The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, Dry Tortugas National Park and Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park are cited as “don’t miss” attractions.Established in 2002, Tripadvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best awards are the highest honor Tripadvisor bestows. The awards are based on millions of reviews and opinions from travelers around the world, reflecting “the best of the best” for service, quality and customer satisfaction, from hotels and accommodations to destinations, attractions, restaurants and experiences. Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best award winners are selected annually based on feedback from millions of Tripadvisor members.
05 Feb 21Partner News
Name Announced for Key West Airport’s Coronavirus-Fighting RobotA name was announced Friday for a coronavirus-fighting robot that disinfects interior spaces of Key ...Read moreName Announced for Key West Airport’s Coronavirus-Fighting Robot - News & announcements
A name was announced Friday for a coronavirus-fighting robot that disinfects interior spaces of Key West International Airport following an online contest that attracted 1,000 entries — its maximum limit — in about six hours.“R2Key2” was chosen by a committee of Florida Keys officials from a dozen finalists. The name salutes both fictional robots and the unit’s Keys location.Key West International was among the United States’ first airports to implement one of the unique robots, debuting it in December. The unit emits high-intensity ultraviolet UV-C wavelength light designed to remove 99.9 percent of harmful airborne and surface pathogens including the novel coronavirus.The nearly 6-foot-tall robot patrols the terminal and other interior spaces during nighttime hours after the airport closes to the public. It even plays music while making its rounds.“R2Key2” was submitted by Chelsea Atkins of Bat Cave, North Carolina.The “name the robot” contest, staged Jan. 14, was part of the Florida Keys tourism council’s initiative to promote directives and safety protocols in place in the Keys to combat COVID-19, including mandatory masking requirements.“While naming the robot is lighthearted in its nature, what we really are concerned about, and make a priority here in the Florida Keys, is protecting the health of our residents and our tourists,” said Keys Mayor Michelle Coldiron, who helped judge submissions and is also a tourism council board member. “The robot is now keeping the Key West International Airport cleaner and safer for all who come through the Florida Keys.”“R2Key2” moves around the airport autonomously when people are not present, since the light it emits during the active disinfection cycle is intense — and supplements other cleanliness and passenger protection practices. It can disinfect the entire interior space in approximately 2.5 hours.Atkins won a Key West vacation that includes two airline certificates on JetBlue and accommodations at The Gates Hotel Key West for three nights. The prize also includes attraction passes from the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, Historic Tours of America and Sebago Watersports.Other judges included Richard Strickland, the island chain’s airports’ director, and Bob Eadie, the director of the Keys’ state health office.
14 Dec 20Partner News
Winter in the Florida Keys & Key West Ushers in Sunny, Breezy Outdoor ExperiencesFLORIDA KEYS — Winter may bring snowy or freezing weather to many U.S. locations, but ...Read moreWinter in the Florida Keys & Key West Ushers in Sunny, Breezy Outdoor Experiences - News & announcements
FLORIDA KEYS — Winter may bring snowy or freezing weather to many U.S. locations, but the 125-mile-long Florida Keys island chain ushers in subtropical warmth and a variety of outdoor and cultural activities for visitors.Keys resorts continue to undergo rebranding, renovations and expansions, adding suites for families that allow social distancing while reconnecting with loved ones.New seasonal winter flights into Key West include daily nonstop service from Houston on United Airlines, and daily service from Boston, Orlando and Tampa on American Airlines. Aztec Airways has new service from Fort Lauderdale.In Key West, masks are mandated everywhere outside of a lodging establishment or residence. Throughout all other areas of the Keys, everyone must carry a facial covering for immediate use to be worn inside businesses and outdoors when 6 feet of social distancing is not possible. Masks may be removed for eating or drinking.Visitor venues, attractions and resorts throughout the Keys have enhanced sanitization and safety measures. For comprehensive COVID-19 visitor guidelines, visit fla-keys.com.Among what’s new:Keys Visitor Health ProtectionA coronavirus-fighting robot is to begin patrolling Key West International Airport’s interior spaces after hours beginning Tuesday, Dec. 15. The robot emits high-intensity ultraviolet UV-C wavelength light that kills harmful pathogens in the air and on surfaces. The ultraviolet disinfection robot, developed by UVD Robots, is designed to remove 99.9% of pathogens including coronavirus. Key West International Airport is among the first airports in the United States to acquire one of the sophisticated units that provides nonchemical disinfection, according to a manufacturer’s representative.The equipment’s acquisition was motivated by a desire to augment the airport’s other cleanliness and passenger protection practices to safeguard against coronavirus, said Richard Strickland, director of airports for the Keys’ Monroe County.The robot can move around the airport autonomously, while a human operator is to ensure people are away from spaces it will sanitize and monitors its progress via a smart tablet. The robot’s autonomous operation is vital, since the light it emits during the active disinfection cycle is so intense it can only be used after hours when people are not present. For further safety, a sensor will shut the light down if a human presence is detected to protect people from UV-C exposure.Officials said the robot can disinfect the entire airport’s interior spaces in approximately 2.5 hours. Visit Key West International Airport at eyw.com.Keys AccommodationsIn Marathon, the 16-acre waterfront Faro Blanco Resort & Yacht Club, with 125 rooms and a 73-slip marina accommodating vessels up to 120 feet, has been acquired by EOS Investors LLC, which describes it as an “amenity-rich, destination resort.” EOS also owns the nearby Isla Bella Beach Resort. Faro Blanco’s amenities include the 199-seat Lighthouse Grill with expansive waterfront views, two swimming pools, bar, market, fitness center, on-site watersports and fishing charters, and more than 11,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space. The resort’s on-site landmark Faro Blanco Lighthouse has guided guests by land and sea since the 1950s. Visit faroblancoresort.com or call 305-743-1234.The historic Casa Marina Key West, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, celebrates its 100th anniversary on New Year’s Eve as the final project of industrialist Henry M. Flagler, founder of the Florida Keys East Coast Railroad that stretched from the Florida mainland to Key West. Casa Marina opened on New Year’s Eve 1920 as Key West’s most glamorous resort . It was converted into U.S. Navy office headquarters from 1942-1946 and was commandeered by the U.S. military during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Notable guests have included Ernest Hemingway, Rita Hayworth and other famous Keys visitors. Today the landmark resort, beloved by locals and visitors, offers 311 rooms and suites, two private pools, a large private beach and the island’s largest space for meetings and weddings with 11,000 square feet indoors and outdoors. Amenities include Spa al Mare; Flagler’s Ballroom, serving daily breakfast; and the outdoor Sun Sun Beach Bar & Grill with lunch, dinner and “toes in the sand” dining options. Visit casamarinaresort.com or call 305-296-3535.In Key West, the 219-room Kimpton Key West collection is adding its fourth and fifth Old Town boutique-style resorts. Ridley House (the former Cypress House Inn) at 601 Caroline St., ideal for honeymooners and VIPs, is to open March 15. Ella’s Cottages at 811 Simonton St., for groups and extended stays, opened Nov. 15. Recently unveiled are the 44-room Fitch Lodge, 1030 Eaton St.; the 45-unit Lighthouse Hotel, 902 Whitehead St.; and the 85-room Winslow’s Bungalows, 725 Truman Ave., named after artist Winslow Homer and the collection’s largest property with three pools. Each pet-friendly resort has continental breakfasts, complimentary bikes, hammocks and its own pool. Visit kimptonkeywest.com or call 877-219-4500.The new boutique Capitana Key West — one of the closest properties on North Roosevelt Boulevard to downtown Duval Street and with a private beach fronting the Gulf of Mexico — is scheduled to open by early 2021 as an Opal Collection property. Seventy-five rooms, each with a balcony, include 64 units with Gulf views and 11 townhome-style cottages (offering grocery deliveries from Fausto’s Food Palace). The 64 units include 3 suites with two bedrooms (one with bunks and one a king); 32 king rooms, some with wraparound Gulf-view balconies; and 29 queen rooms with kitchenettes. Four units are ADA-accessible. Amenities include a 24-hour fitness center, signature bicycles, lobby market shop and poolside cabanas (reservations required). It’s at 2401 N. Roosevelt Blvd., previously the site of Banana Bay Resort & Marina. Visit thecapitanakeywest.com or call 305-292-6925.Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina is to be rebranded Jan. 4 as the 178-room Opal Key Resort & Marina as part of the Opal Collection Hotels & Resorts. A seamless transition is to unveil a resort known for offering its popular Key West experiences with a convenient, central location adjacent to Mallory Square at 245 Front St. The resort is home to a full-service 37-slip marina with watersports, outdoor and indoor dining options, waterside shops and live entertainment. Visit opalcollection.com or call 305-294-4000.Keys AirliftBeginning Dec. 17, United Airlines is to launch daily nonstop service between Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and Key West International Airport (EYW). United’s Embraer E170 aircraft offers seating for 70 passengers, with 64 main cabin and six first-class seats. The seasonal flights, a new market with United for the Keys, are scheduled to run through March 27. Visit United Airlines at united.com or call 800-864-8331, or visit Key West International Airport at eyw.com or call 305-809-5200.Also beginning Dec. 17, American Airlines is adding daily holiday service from Boston International Airport (BOS) to Key West International Airport (EYW) on Embraer E175 aircraft through Jan. 4. Also Dec. 17, American is adding new daily nonstop flights from Orlando International Airport (MCO) and Tampa International Airport (TPA) on 76-seat Embraer E175 regional jets to EYW. American’s new daily Orlando and Tampa flights, scheduled to run through April 5, 2021, have seating for 64 main cabin and 12 first-class passengers. Visit American Airlines at aa.com or call 800-733-4300, or Key West International Airport at eyw.com or call 305-809-5200.Fort Lauderdale–based Aztec Airways offers nonstop scheduled flights and private charters from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport to Key West International Airport (EYW) on air-conditioned, nine-seat Piper Chieftain aircraft. Passengers check in at Aztec Airways’ facility at the Key West Ferry Terminal. After check-in, a private shuttle takes passengers to EYW, where they are dropped off at the plane for direct boarding, avoiding security lines. Aztec, founded in 1988, is an on-demand commuter scheduled air carrier. Roundtrip flights are priced at $249 per person including tax. Visit flyaztec.com or call 954-601-3742.Keys ParksIn the Lower Keys, the 524-acre Bahia Honda State Park is undergoing a $2.96 million restoration of its Sandspur area on the park’s north side, with completion targeted by late 2021. Full restoration includes its mile-long Sandspur Beach, 24-campsite Sandspur campgrounds, a 155-car parking area and two shower towers at the day-use area. The park, known for sandy beaches, shallow-water swimming and snorkeling, is located at 36850 Overseas Highway. Visit floridastateparks.org/BahiaHonda or call 305-872-2353.Keys ExperiencesIn Key West, visitors can pen their own stories in the second-story writing studio of Ernest Hemingway at his Spanish colonial villa, the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum at 907 Whitehead St. A three-hour, after-hours experience for two can inspire creativity in the space where Hemingway penned “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” and other works. “For a writer to be able to occupy Hemingway’s same space, and soak in the same creative atmosphere he did, is a priceless opportunity,” said Mike Morawski, the museum’s chief executive officer. Cost varies; advance reservations are required. Email [email protected].The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum also has a new virtual book club, offered through Facebook @Hemingway Home Book Club, featuring selected books every six weeks. Launching Jan. 1, its selections are to focus on books by author Ernest Hemingway and works of historical and modern fiction relating to Hemingway. Book discounts are to be offered through an online book store. Email [email protected] or call 305-294-1136.The Lighthouse Hotel, a Kimpton Key West collection member located at 902 Whitehead St. across from the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, offers “A Hemingway Affair” for private parties of up to 10. The Hemingway Suite, with a view of the literary legend’s former home, can be reserved for a culinary experience with a custom menu created by Great Events Catering, cocktail hour with butler-passed hors d’oeuvres and a multicourse in-suite meal prepared by a private chef. Contact [email protected] or call 305-294-8067.BeachBunny’s Original Tours of Key West offers GPS-driven downloadable audio and multimedia tours for walking, biking and driving. Visitors can maintain social distancing and get an authentic, immersive Key West experience. Tours include Easy Stroll Through Old Town, Key West; Perfect Key West Sunset Stroll; Bike the Beaches and Back Roads of Key West; and Day Trip! A Drive Through the Lower Keys. Interested participants can download BeachBunny Tours’ free app to a phone or tablet through the Apple Store or Google Play, then choose a desired tour. Visit beachbunnytours.com.Keys LighthousesThe Key West Art & Historical Society offers a Key West Lighthouse Sunset Experience for groups of up to eight, featuring 90 minutes of exclusive access to the lighthouse, keeper’s quarters and grounds. The lighthouse, opened in 1848, has 88 steps to reach the top. Each experience includes a complimentary bottle of wine or Prosecco and artisanal meats, cheeses or sweets (vegan and vegetarian options are available) from a local wine shop. Bookings are required at least 24 hours in advance. The grounds and keeper’s quarters museum are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Contact [email protected].Dry Tortugas National Park, located about 70 miles off Key West, has begun a $4.5 million three-phase full restoration of its 144-year-old iron-plated Tortugas Harbor Lighthouse on historic Fort Jefferson, considered an iconic symbol of the remote park. “While partial repairs to the lighthouse have occurred over the past 40 years, it has never received this kind of comprehensive preservation,” said Pedro Ramos, South Florida parks and preserve superintendent. The project, funded from park entrance fees, includes disassembling the 37-foot-tall iron structure; metal conservation and repair in Alexander City, Alabama; and reassembly in Dry Tortugas. The lighthouse was deactivated in 1921. Visit nps.gov/drto/learn/historyculture/lighthouses.htm.Keys ArtIn Marathon, The Art Corner, created by resident artist Renee Anderson, features local works including paintings, jewelry, pop art, resin casting and fused glass. The Art Corner represents five local artists. Additional information can be found at the studio’s Facebook @Art Corner. It’s open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and located in the space “Signs by Renee” at 72 Coco Plum Drive. Call 305-743-5151.Keys WatersportsThe Florida Keys tourism council has produced and debuted on its social media channels an educational video that encourages visitors to practice safe, responsible actions when boating, diving and fishing in the island chain. Providing safety tips and guidelines are Bobby Dube, Florida Keys public information officer for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Middle Keys dive operator Wendy Hall and Lower Keys–based sportfishing guide Captain Will Benson. “By educating visitors on the fragility of Keys marine resources before their trips, we help increase their understanding so they’ll be more likely to protect those resources,” said tourism council Director Stacey Mitchell. Visit fla-keys.com/sustain.
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